Most tourists visiting Budapest don’t know about the cave system that streches under the Buda Castle District. A part of this unique natural formation was converted into a hospital in the 1930s and was used both during the 2nd World War and the Hungarian uprising in 1956. I imagine that most Hungarians have never heard of this mysterious place either. I too, was one of them.
This is surprising, as being a native of Budapest I do know many places – mainly in the tourist areas of Budapest. And this is right there. It’s just 5 minutes away from the well known and spectacular Matthias Church.
As Betül, a foreign friend of mine, is leaving Hungary after studying for two years at the Semmelweis Medical University, I thought I should invite her to do something interesting. During her two years in Budapest she hardly had any rest. She studied day and night with amazing persistence. When she was not at school, she was studying from her medical books in her room. No wonder her results are excellent.
So, I asked her to join me on this unusual tour in what used to be a hospital but is now a museum.
It was a shocking and, at the same time, touching experience for both of us. After we left, we were moved by what we’d seen and heard there.
The museum can only be visited with a guide; it isn’t possible to just walk around as it’s difficult to navigate in the underground tunnels.
A guided tour departs every hour during opening hours, both in English and Hungarian. It’s great, as the guide reveals many interesting stories but you only have about an hour there.
I would have liked to have stayed longer to read all the notices on the walls, look at all the wax figures, the devices, tools and equipment and just to think about the professional and volunteer medical personnel, the casualties and those who never left the hospital alive.
What really touched me was a picture on the wall showing a family. The daughter was born in the cave during the uprising in 1956. The mother was probably surrounded by the wounded and dying when she gave birth to her daughter.
As it is not allowed to take photos inside, here is one at the entrance – Betül and me after the tour.
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About the authors: Virág and János
Virág, a native of Budapest, and János, who’s been living in the city since 1997 are real fans of the capital of Hungary and try to awake the enthusiasm of others. They are dedicated to helping tourists to make most out of their stay.
Here you can read more about them: http://katonaapartments.hu/